South Africa


Cyril Ramaphosa hurries home to guide action plan for country’s crippling power crisis

Cyril Ramaphosa hurries home to guide action plan for country’s crippling power crisis
President Cyril Ramaphosa is returning home to South Africa to tackle the country's power crisis. (Archive Photo, 2019: Sebabatso Mosamo / Sunday Times)

President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet will meet to follow up on the short-term plans that were formulated after the previous time citizens were hit with power cuts. The country has yet again been experiencing scheduled outages as Eskom continues to encounter breakdowns at its stations.

Upon his return to South Africa on Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa will convene meetings with ministers and members of the newly established National Energy Crisis Committee to tackle the rolling blackouts in the country. The power crisis will also be top of the agenda when Cabinet meets as scheduled on Wednesday.

Speaking to Daily Maverick, presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said president Cyril Ramaphosa had already held a virtual emergency meeting on Sunday with a number of ministers to talk about how to solve the recurring energy crisis. Present in the meeting were members of the National Energy Crisis Committee as well as ministers responsible for overseeing the structure who are part of the inter-ministerial committee. 

The National Energy Crisis Committee was formed last month after the previous bout of rolling blackouts in July. At the time, Ramaphosa assured citizens that the government would be implementing short and long-term plans to end rolling blackouts. The short-term plans include improving the performance of Eskom’s existing power stations and adding as much new generation capacity to the grid as quickly as possible. 

“For now, the President is going to be convening meetings with concerned Public Enterprises Minister [Pravin Gordhan], Mineral Resources and Energy Minister [Gwede Mantashe], Finance Minister [Enoch Godongwana], Environment, Forest and Fisheries [Barbara Creecy] as well as the officials, including the Director General in the Presidency [Phindile Baleni] who chairs the Energy crisis committee. So he held one emergency meeting with them on Sunday, he’s waiting for more updates and will certainly convene more meetings upon his return,” according to Magwenya. 

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The President cut his international travels short so that he could return to the country and deal with the Eskom crisis. Ramaphosa met US President Joe Biden on Friday, 16 September, then flew to London ahead of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on Monday, 19 September.

He was scheduled to return to New York after the funeral to attend this week’s high-level opening segment of the annual United Nations General Assembly session. But Magwenya announced on Sunday evening that Ramaphosa had changed his plans.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “The less obvious impact of Eskom’s power cuts on our lives”. 

Magwenya explained that discussions around finding solutions for the current state of affairs would be prioritised in the next cabinet meeting.

“There is a cabinet meeting [on Wednesday] the President will chair and that Eskom and the energy situation will be on top of the agenda,” Magwenya said. 

Residents and businesses have suffered long hours without electricity amid stepped-up rolling blackouts. Eskom placed the country on different stages since last week with the power utility moving to stage 6 by Sunday, which saw South Africans eperiencing six hours of blackouts per day — sometimes more. 

In his weekly presidential newsletter issued on Tuesday morning, 20 September 2022, Ramaphsoa said the country acknowledged the urgency to overcome the electricity crisis.

“Since late last week, Eskom has been forced to implement load shedding due to breakdowns at a number of power stations. The situation has been made worse by the depletion of emergency generation reserves such as pumped storage and diesel turbines and the need for these to be replenished. The severe load shedding of the last few days has reminded us how unstable our ageing power stations are. It has given greater urgency to the measures we announced two months ago to stabilise our electricity supply,” the letter reads.

On Sunday, during a press briefing, Eskom group chief executive André de Ruyter said they would start to procure additional energy from existing independent power producers. The plan is to access approximately 1,000MW from existing independent power producers like Sasol and Sappi and hopes to have it online within a week or two.

De Ruyter also emphasised that rolling blackouts would continue throughout this week. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Peter Theunissen says:

    Surely the heading is a joke?!

  • Graeme J says:

    I can only assume that the title of the article, “Cyril Ramaphosa hurries home to guide action plan for country’s crippling power crisis” was dripping in sarcasm?

    The investigators working on the sabotage of Eskom must follow the money-trail. Who benefits the most from coal-generation failures? Simple, the people that sell diesel to Eskom. Follow the trail. This isn’t rocket science.

  • Sam Joubs says:

    Yay!!!! No loadshedding program can withstand the power of endless meetings. We are so lucky that our president decided to have meetings. Meetings where the minutes will be kept and the hours wasted… What a waste of space they are!!!!

  • Mark O’Malley says:

    So despite having chaired the Eskom war room for 5 years during Zuma’s term , with no positive outcomes , he now flies home , to say and do what ? What guidance can he possibly give when he is still clueless ? The blind leading the blind .

  • Michael Forsyth says:

    What a joke. If they’d done something 24 years ago or even 15 years ago we might believe it. Apart from anything else properly qualified members of the private sector should be added to this task team. It is quite absurd to think that the bunch of incompetents on the team could have anything relevant to say.

  • Rob Wilson says:

    The rapid increase in load shedding hours over the last 5 years is concrete proof that whatever they think they are doing, it is not working. While there may be pockets of competence, there is something really rotten in the state of Eskom. It is really now incumbent on leadership to call in people who can eradicate the rot and correct matters, and it is not CR. Or what looks now looks like an unemployment crisis will start looking like good times.

    • Charles Parr says:

      It’s not an Eskom management problem it’s a political problem and ‘who gets the money’ problem. That can’t be fixed by this bunch of thieves.

      • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

        If you have a CEO of coal and nuclear power stations going around talking green energy you must know you have a clown running the
        entity because he hardly knows the company he is running. Who cares about green energy when we hardly have yellow or brown energy?

        • Peter Smith says:

          The CEO is right. He knows that the USA alone is closing more than 1000 power stations in the next year. He also knows that Eskom has not been able to get the brand new Kusile and Medupi running. The reason why the government (taxpayers) have to fund Eskom is because no bank will finance coal, it will take 10-15 years to build and the running costs will be expensive due to carbon tax.
          But they can install 7GW of solar (4 x Medupi’s current output) in one year. The capital cost will be less that the cost of coal for 1 Medupi. So the CEO is correct.

        • Charles Parr says:

          Of course he must go for green energy and let the private sector put it in and manage the generation of electricity. Eskom is an electricity generating entity and there is no possibility on earth that the CEO of Eskom could possibly have been appointed as the nursemaid for the coal industry. That exists only in the minds of Greedy Mantashe and his mafia mates in the industry.

  • Geoff Krige says:

    What happened to David Mabusa and his “Electricity War Room”? What happened to the last 15 years of promises by the ANC to fix Eskom and electricity supply? The entire Eskom fleet of power stations is not old, some are very new and they do not produce any better than the old ones. Why not? When will the ANC learn that competence, not friends and family and people prepared to offer handsome backhanders, is what is needed to run major technical corporations?

  • Maciej Soltynski says:

    The solution to this situation is to impose salary-shedding on the ESKOM executive team. For a stage in any month, they shed 15% of their monthly salaries. So, if the maximum stage in a month is 1, they shed 15%, if the maximum stage in the month is 2, they shed 30% of their salary… etc. So this month so far they will shed 90%. This salary-shedding might finally get their attention.

  • John Georgiou says:

    Cyril the who was in charge of the electricity war room under Zuma achieved absolutely nothing, then appointed Mantashe who is the master of achieving nothing, is somehow going you save us with more endless meetings and action plans. Clearly the words “action” and”urgency” are not understood by them. Absolutely hopeless state of affairs. Your average citizen has far more sense better ideas of what to do than the entire collective intelligence of the government.

  • Wilhelm Boshoff says:

    Cyril please do not do anything. You’ve done enough damage.

  • Nick Griffon says:

    Cyril Ramaphosa cannot guide a blind dog on a leash. The heading made me laugh though. Thanks for the morning joke.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    De Ruyter has the hardest job on the planet at the moment in my opinion. He is buggered if he does and buggered if he doesn’t fix our energy problem! I hope he is being well paid – I personally would prefer my tax dollars to be going towards trying to solve our problems ( created by the inefficient ANC) than have it stolen by the corruption within the politically connected ANC. The next thing to do is rid this country of racist BEE policies that enable inefficiencies, infrastructure collapses and theft of taxpayers contributions.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    The question I would like answered is – did CR actually attend the funeral ( no evidence anywhere that he did) or just the Lying in State to sign the book of condolence?
    If he was not invited to the actual funeral or stayed away by choice will say a lot about the current status of South Africa in the eyes of the world. A once proud country whose people ( of all races) fought,some to their deaths, for democracy in both World Wars. To not be acknowledged or not accepting acknowledgment is a true reflection of what we’ve become and where we are going. Just my opinion.

  • Miles Japhet says:

    Provide De Ruyter with the correct political and economic support to hire and fire under emergency regulations, so that the criminal and incompetent elements can be replaced.
    A special task force should work, power station by power station to monitor, investigate and prosecute all those sabotaging our country.

  • Gregory Scott says:

    Will we hear these words from our President when he hurries home from his trip abroad? Mayday Mayday! We have a problem! This is a call to action! We need every qualified expert on hand to fix our unreliable electricity supply!
    At what point will the ANC put South Africa band every citizen first by taking ownership of the catastrophic destruction of every aspect of government due to ANC governing policies such as cadre deployment, BEE etc? Never forget that Mr Ramaphosa chaired the ANC Deployment Committee and as such is the architect of most things being transformed from working to broken.
    How can the ANC government not see the obvious, see the degradation in service delivery and the decline in everything that the government has a hand in?
    The transformation of Eskom to barely producing HALF the electricity it produced 20 years ago with DOUBLE the staff complement is a clear indication of the failure of the ANC policy.
    I suggest that Mr Ramaphosa and his incompetent team stop mucking about by rehashing the same story expecting a different outcome, and take immediate action to make it possible to hand the electricity crisis over to EXPERTS who are provided with the mandate and authority, free of political interference, to do whatever is necessary to restore the electricity supply for the benefit of all South Africans.

  • Gerhardt Strydom says:

    “Cyril the Forever Diplomat rushes home to tend to energy crises” – I am as excited and encourages by this as the messages I get on my phone and emails: “You have inherited $4 million from your uncle in Nigeria, only pay $250 administration fee now”.
    Cyril, who are you trying to impress and convince?
    A The rural ANC members who have no clue about current affairs and the state of the ANC/
    government and will blissfully support the ANC, no matter what
    B Citizens and voters who know you are a talker, not a doer
    C The international audience (who should you know you by now)

  • Johan Buys says:

    One free and simple suggested tool: With immediate effect all councils or regions with payment arrears get permanent stage 8 loadshedding until arrears are resolved. That will save the country 3 stages of loadshed. Won’t be popular with that 16% of users but will delight the 84% that do pay. If this does not cut enough power, then implement stage 1 or 2 from 6pm to 6am country wide. It is very insulting to me that those that don’t pay still get free power half the day.

  • Arved von Oettingen says:

    Jane, is R7M per annum for de Ruyter, “being paid enough”!? I also believe he must be paid well, but then Eskom must work.

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